BRISTOL: 60 homes refused
Image: Google Maps,
Plans for 60 homes near the edge of Clifton Down have been rejected after they were described as a “disaster waiting to happen”.
Councillors refused permission to bulldoze buildings near The Vincent retirement village in Bristol and replace them with two five-storey blocks containing flats and flexible office space, which would have been accessed through the Vincent’s car park.
A Bristol City Council development control committee turned down the outline application by Elizabeth Blackwell Properties by 4-3 votes, despite planning officers’ advice to approve the scheme.
They decided the “overbearing” proposed buildings, near the corner of Redland Hill and Whiteladies Road, would have an unacceptable impact on neighbours.
Members said at their previous meeting last month that they were minded to refuse consent and confirmed their decision when the plans for land at Home Gardens came back on Wednesday, October 13, despite warnings an appeal was likely to succeed.
The proposals received 52 objections during four rounds of consultation, including from elderly residents of The Vincent, its owner Lifestory Group and neighbours at Grade II-listed cottages in St Vincents Hill.
Labour Cllr Fabian Breckels told the meeting it was frustrating that the applicants had not taken up the committee’s request to create a different access point away from The Vincent.
“All they’ve done is come back and said ‘we served the right paperwork and we have right of access’,” he said.
“They haven’t actually done anything about the very thing we asked them to deal with, which is access not through the retirement centre.
“That is completely unacceptable. The one thing we asked them to look into has been completely ignored.”
Cllr Breckels said the blocks would be “overbearing” and the 60 flats could turn out to be student accommodation, like neighbouring Harper House which the developers also own, so there was “no guarantee there will be homes at all”.
He said the amount of heavy machinery, cranes and material required to build the homes in the confined space was “not a safe or acceptable way of getting this built”, despite officers’ assurances that a satisfactory construction management plan could be secured by a condition.
Conservative Cllr Richard Eddy said there were no objections from the council’s transport team over safety and the application complied with the authority’s planning policies, including having 20 per cent affordable homes, which should be “applauded”.
He said: “I am not enthusiastic about this but with a heavy heart I will be voting for it.”
Head of development control Gary Collins said the council would have a “very slim chance” of successfully defending a planning appeal if the scheme was refused because of concerns over pedestrian safety, because the amount of traffic would be similar.
Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Brown said it was “inescapable” that the project would have some impact on neighbouring properties after completion because of its high level of density.
“But on the other hand we have a need for houses,” he said.
“It’s a low-grade site as it is, it’s a site that needs improving in a prime part of the city which is sustainable. It is walkable into town and is on a bus route.”
Green Cllr Ani Stafford-Townsend, who chairs the committee, said: “It would be lovely to see something happening there but this is a little too high and too dense for that spot.
“I am quite frustrated that the request was made and the opportunity was there for more engagement with the residents of The Vincent who are quite understandably concerned about the very tight access – I would not be happy with that outside my front door – but that more engagement with them and more smoothing of that relationship does not appear to have been done.
“It’s a missed opportunity and does not fill me with a great hope and faith about the construction management plan being put in place because a lot more could have been done to make this stage of the process less upsetting and fraught.”
The plans were unchanged since last time but the applicants submitted proof of a longstanding agreement with Lifestory Group granting them access to the site, although officers said this was a private matter outside the planning process.
The Vincent resident Peter Back told the meeting: “The proposed site access is dangerous.
“Elderly residents will be crossing directly into the path of heavy construction vehicles.
“This combination of high construction traffic movements and highly vulnerable elderly and infirm residents can only be a disaster waiting to happen.
“It is no exaggeration to say that if the application is approved, some residents will be in fear of their lives and feel unable to leave the building.”
Planning agent Julian Bolitho said: “The proposal will deliver much-needed housing and flexible office space in a sustainable location, where people can live and work with good access to high-quality walking and cycling links, public transport and open space.
“It is sensitively designed. The only change from the existing situation is that the access would serve 34 parking spaces, instead of the current 30.”
Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter
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